Members of the College of Cardinals have met in Rome in the first of the General Congregations convened to discuss the state of the Church. The meeting took place at 9:30am Rome time this morning. A second General Congregation of the College of Cardinals will convene at 5:00pm, or 11:00am Eastern time today. Catholic News Agency reports that as of this morning, the Cardinals have yet to set a formal date for the conclave to begin, despite some apparently false rumors circulating over the weekend that the conclave could begin as early as this Thursday.
Some on the secular media often ask the question “will the next pope ‘change’ the Church,” wondering whether a pope can somehow alter the Church’s fundamental message. Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York says that the Church is “in the business of change big time,” saying in a Rome homily that “Jesus calls us first and foremost not to change structures, but to let God change us inside,” reported Catholic News Agency. He reminded listeners that the purpose of the Petrine Ministry is to hand on the Gospel as the apostles gave it to us. “That is the very nature of the papacy, to hand on faithfully what God told Jesus, what Jesus told his apostles and what his apostles hand on to us traditionally.” Cardinal Dolan has also remarked that despite the insistence of some of the “old guard” cardinals who had been opposed to Benedict XVI at the last conclave, that this conclave should not be hurried, telling the Catholic press “don’t rush the conclave.”